In this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I interview Karrie Sanderson. Karrie is Chief Marketing Officer at Typeform, leading brand strategy, advertising, PR, internal communications, and DEI efforts as well as overseeing the internal creative studio.
Typeform is one of the world’s leading online form and survey companies. In this episode, Typeform’s CMO, Karrie Sanderson, joins me to talk about how Typeform has accomplished standing out in a crowded market through differentiation and how they plan to keep moving the needle forward.
Questions I ask Karrie Sanderson:
- [1:12] How did diversity, equality, and inclusion land in the CMO job?
- [2:06] Another aspect in your bio too is the internal creative studio – is that a product or a part of your own marketing?
- [2:48] Has design been a key differentiator for Typeform?
- [3:23] As CMO, how do you look at the customer journey?
- [5:26] Typeform really seems like more of a conversation in comparison to a regular form– how often do you fight the idea that people perceive it as ‘just a form where they only need the data’?
- [7:55] Would you go as far as saying a form experience could be a part of your culture?
- [8:26] What do you feel is your core differentiator?
- [10:50] I remember the first, probably 10 years ago first time I came across Typeform and most people probably had this reaction – “Wow, that’s different.” Do you ever fight the urge to say we have to be different again?
- [12:29] Where do you stand on your messaging for client acquisition?
- [15:49] If you were advising a form builder, what should the experience be as soon as I hit submit?
- [20:08] What are some of the things that you’ve found that make Typeform surveys more enjoyable or more relatable?
- [21:49] Is there anything on the horizon for Typeform that you want to tell my audience about that you guys are working on?
- [22:55] Where can people connect with you and learn more about your work?
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(00:47): Hello And welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch, and my guest today is Karrie Sanderson. She's chief marketing officer at typeform, leading brand strategy, advertising, pr, internal communications and d i efforts, as well as overseeing the internal creative studio. So Carrie, welcome to the show.
Karrie Sanderson (01:09): Thank you. Glad to be here, John.
John Jantsch (01:11): So that's a lot in the CMOs job, particularly diversity, equity, inclusion. I'm kind of curious how that landed in the CMO job.
Karrie Sanderson (01:20): Right. So I've been bene type for about a year, and one of the reasons why I joined Typeform was, was that early on, a lot of times startups don't think about that until they Sure. Like, Hey, let's get this business going. And the Met go, right? And then speaking with a leadership team, they were very upfront in the very beginning about how they want that to be a part of everything they do from day one and we live it. And so starting up the coms PR function, you know, we're at that stage and really assigning someone and really thinking through how we embed it truly into our marketing motions, our internal culture. It's been really important. So that sits with my team and I've got someone who's dedicated to it and we're in the middle of planning right now, and we are keeping that front and center as we think through our plans.
John Jantsch (02:06): So another aspect on, uh, in your bio too, that I'm obviously, I think a lot of people who know Typeform certainly know about its core functionality, But I'm curious, what's the internal creative studio? Is that a product or is that just part of your own marketing?
Karrie Sanderson (02:19): Yeah, this is the marketing team. So we have a phenomenal studio team. And you know, part of why people know Typeform is the fact that we really did change the game in how you show up in the world and how you can show up as a brand. And so a lot of that's been driven by just a brand expression ourselves. We can't expect our customers to know how to do that if we aren't doing that ourselves. So we've got an in-house team that really cares for and leads our brand expression across all dimensions, product, marketing, other things as well.
John Jantsch (02:48): And we can get into the specifics, but I mean, that design aspect has really been a key differentiator for Typeform, hasn't
Karrie Sanderson (02:55): It? Yes, it has. And it was really the founder, our founder David, and he, it was really about, there has to be this better way, right? Yeah. As we get into this digital world and so much of our interactions are online, it just was feeling so one way. It's like, why can't we make this more back and forth, more human feeling? And it's built into the actual design of the product. And when you do it that way, then it makes it easier to express it both for ourselves, but also let our customers express themselves that
John Jantsch (03:22): Way. So, So as a cmo, how do you look at the, the customer journey, you know, at at Typeform? I mean, you know, a lot of people would say, Well, you know, it's a SAS online form product, you know,
Karrie Sanderson (03:41): Yeah, so for me it's about the mindset of customers. We, you're thinking it through. When I first joined, we spent a lot of time talking about, you know, what is the promise of Typeform? You know, what is the brand? And when we think about that journey and this, it's okay, it's no judgment, but there are gonna be some customers or potential customers, like the TAM is still huge. So we have a lot more potential customers than we, than we do hundred 35,000 customers. But it's people who care about that experience, right? If you're moving out of brick and mortar into online, more and more businesses, whether you're B2B or you're b2c, are realizing that digital is a primary channel or at least equal. And so if you care about that experience, then what we're trying to do with that journey of a customer who works with us is find those who are trying to lean in and provide a differentiated experience to their customers, not just at that first digital touch, but every touch along the way.
(04:34): And the way that Typeform is designed is to do that, is to make it feel, you know, two ways to build that trust. And it has inherent value for the person who's filling out the form, because they feel like, Oh, they really want my opinion, and they took care about this experience, and it builds that trust. They're more likely to fill out the forms, they're more likely to have a positive brand impression. And then for us as Typeform, it's amazing because people fill out a type form and Wow, what was that? And then they come check us out, and then like, Hey, so we have a pretty good viral product led growth experience as well for us internally.
John Jantsch (05:07): Yeah. And if you're listening and you have not experienced Typeform, I mean, it really feels more like a conversation. It's like, Hey, let's get to know each other. What's your name? Then it goes to the next field and it's like, well, you know, how are you feeling? Did I mean it really, obviously you can make it do whatever you want it to do, but I think on its surface it feels much more conversational. How do you, I mean, I think people that get it go, Wow, that was a better experience, but do you often fight kind of the idea that people are like, Eh, it's just a form. I need the data. You know? So I mean, and again, maybe that's not your customer, or do you feel like that's a fight you can win?
Karrie Sanderson (05:40): Well, it's interesting. It's part of the evolution of Typeform, and we're a 10 year old company, and we have type forms, our primary product. We have Alzheimer, another product called Video Ask, which is like a video version of that back and forth conversation, which is great for asynchronous when you want video. Yeah. But we're in this, that's part of what I'm undertaking as cmo and we're looking, looking at, is how do we get people thinking about it, not just as a form one time use case and gone, but that embedding within
John Jantsch (06:39): Way. Yeah. And I think also, um, you start trying to expand the use cases, right? I think a lot of people think of a form as, Oh, that's lead capture. Yeah. You know, is we're talking about the customer journey. It's like, that's who they got to know us, and now they're starting to trust us, so they're gonna give us their name and email. But I see people using your forms in onboarding, you know, in, you know, maybe even prep for a sales call, you know, in trying to get, you know, specs for, you know, how to quote, you know? So I mean, I think you really can use it all the way. I think people should expand how they're thinking about using this form of data collection, I guess, you know, through the whole customer journey.
Karrie Sanderson (07:17): Yeah, and that's actually right. Like we do see that primary is either like somebody has a research project or they need to do LEGIA and lead capture, but the opportunity is to provide that same sort of human experience at every digital touchpoint because customers are, they're fickle and they expect a good experience all along the way. So we do integrate with a lot of the common MarTech stack, and so we're able to be that touchpoint along the way, whether it's legion or research or onboarding or education. And also for employees, a lot of, actually some of our larger customers use us both for employee, you know, use cases as well as for their customers,
John Jantsch (07:54):
Karrie Sanderson (08:01): Yes, absolutely. If you do it right. I mean, we've seen so much creativity of folks using us for things that are really educational, like embedding videos and you know, quizzes or Right. You know, things that you can embed your own brand or you can pick from whatever. We have a way to show up and those folks don't actually realize it's a form, it's an experience, and you can capture whatever you need to capture.
John Jantsch (08:26): If somebody was, you know, just the typical sort of sales kind of questions, like what's the key difference between years and X? You know, how do you feel like, you know, what do you feel like is your core differentiator? Yeah,
Karrie Sanderson (08:38): I mean, I think it's embedded into literally the DNA of the product, which is it's, it was built to build that trust, to build that conversation. So just even the setup of it for the experience that you're building, for whoever's filling out the form, it can have conditional logic. So depending upon what somebody chooses, you can can take 'em down different path paths, all those types of things. But it's that conversational one at a time, questioning that questions that really work well and build that trust. And so the differentiation is, and we know this from data, not only from ourselves, but we hear it from customers when they switch to Typeform, they get much higher response rates, they get better qualitative, please.
John Jantsch (09:13): Sure.
Karrie Sanderson (09:14): Yeah. Along the way, you know, a lot of folks are using us as part of lead gen process right now to ask people, how did you hear about us? And because they're providing it via type form, people are more likely to fill it out and they get richer information. But the other thing too that's differentiating is not just for the respondent, the person who fills out the form, but for the creator, like it's so easy to build. I mean, it's almost like a block drop in and load. So, because a lot of our customers are small businesses, you don't have an IT department, so you wanna be able to easily set it up. You wanna be able to do this on your own. If you're small and you have wear my money hats that you wear, or if you're in a big company, you don't have time. So we spend as much time focusing on the person we call the creator, and the person has to build the forms, connect the forms into MarTech stack. That's also part of our dna, is building in that to be a great experience. Because if it's hard to use, it doesn't matter how great it is sometimes. And then the business value of course. So you try to pay equal attention to both of those on both sides of the software. So we show up well, no matter how you're interacting with Typeform.
John Jantsch (10:16): And now let's hear from a sponsor. You know, today, everybody's online, but are they finding your website, grab the online spotlight and your customer's attention with Semrush from content and SEO to ads and social media. Semrush is your one stop shop for online marketing, build, manage and measure campaigns across all channels faster and easier. Are you ready to take your business to the next level? Get seen, get Semrush, visit Semrush. That's semrush.com/go to try it free for seven days. I remember the first, probably 10 years ago, the first time I came across Typeform, and most people probably had this reaction. Wow, that's different. Do you ever fight the urge to say, we have to be different again? I mean, because everybody knows what a type form type of form is, right? You encounter one and you know, almost immediately that's what you've encountered. Yeah. Do you fight that urge? Sometimes? I
Karrie Sanderson (11:09): Don't think it's necessarily fight the urge to be different. Again, it's just more, are we constantly pushing the boundaries? We have design principles that we live by, you know, by being bold and pushing the envelope and being expected both, again, not only in how the product shows up to the customers, but how we show up with the people who have to build it. So it's part of our DNA that we are design led and data informed. Sure, we do AB test todos type things. But I think when you think about the human experience first and you keep that first, then we can develop the best product because that's what we're telling our customers that we're doing for them. So if we want them to be able to humanize their customer experience, we should be walking the talk. And who you are on the inside is what you show on the outside. So it, it's, it's, it would be easy to coast and rest. But we are a fairly restless bunch about innovating
John Jantsch (12:01): In terms of your own marketing for the firm. You know, the typical SAS acquisition model of, you know, users, you know, new users or trial users, that's all that matters. And so people, most of the advertising, most of the messaging is about, you know, come try this for a dollar for free. You know, that kind of messaging. I'm seeing a more and more SAS companies, particularly more and more that, that have a core difference, are doing more what we might have called brand advertising
Karrie Sanderson (12:35): Yeah. Well for me, my background is very heavy in brand. Yeah. And so I've, you know, worked in brand roles at some of the, you know, big players, Coke, Starbucks, some of those ones. So brand is like, just inherently in my dna. And I think it's a matter of, um, of timeframes, right? There is absolutely a need and a place for new business development, the typical demand gen motions, you know, to kind of Google search and all the other things that you might be doing. But if you don't invest in brand, you're hurting yourself in the long run because it takes time. And it, and especially today where we are to be able to rely less and less on that cookie data and all those other things. Yeah. Like you don't, aren't clear what you stand for and people can't have a positive experience and know who you are.
(13:19): It's gonna be really tough to stand out. It will really get lost in that seed sameness. So we have invested in brand and we are doing work, you know, putting media out there. Mm-hmm.
John Jantsch (14:13): Well, and I think your product certainly has a playful, approachable
Karrie Sanderson (14:27): Yeah, we just, we did a little bit of spring and we're doing some now a campaign about hello, Right. And it's talking about, and we used some illustration animation in the market. We got phenomenal, you know, just views even of the video. People wanted to go watch the video on, you know, YouTube just to see what it was about. And it was really, it wasn't, you know, didn't have a CTA that said sign up now. It was just, what if it was different? What if you were giving your customers a different experience online? What if you're saying hello and just starting a conversation every time you talk with them, every time you interact with them digitally? It's possible. And uh, that's part of what we're doing, right? So we're starting up some PR motions that are doing really well and executive communications, things that are usually a little bit make people nervous because you can't get straight to the cost of acquisition, the ltv. But, you know, I've been marketing for a long time and I remember the days when we didn't have all that data. Yeah, You got to think about if you keep your customer front and center and you're really thinking about their experience when you're putting yourself into their shoes, you're talking to customers regularly, you're what is your, what is working, what is not you, You can come up with the things that you know are gonna work for you if you're listening to them. And it doesn't always have to be an AP test.
John Jantsch (15:45): So let me address one of my pet peeves, and I'm curious how you're advising, If you were advising a form builder, what would you advise them to? What should the experience be? As soon as I hit submit,
Karrie Sanderson (15:58): But after you hit submit.
John Jantsch (15:59): Yeah. So I'm done filling out the form here. Let me line up, Let me tee up the pet peeve. I hate forms that I have no idea what happened. Did it go anywhere? Are you gonna do anything? Is there anybody out there? So, so what are some best practices, or not even best practices, better practices for, you know, for making somebody feel like the experience is continuing after I've submitted the data?
Karrie Sanderson (16:22): Well, again, depends upon where in that funnel you are, right? But I think some kind of a confirmation that it's been submitted is standard and it's built in form of course. But then you can also offer, you know, when somebody builds a type form, they can put as many pages as they want after that submit. So you can say, somebody will follow up with you, here's more information. You can send it to websites, You can do different things. I, I do, I think that's an interesting pet peeve. I just learned something from you that I'm gonna be thinking about a little bit more about what that's practices of what to do. You do wanna know, did it go through? I do know that I don't like it when I submit a form and I go straight to some marketing page about something. I'm like, it doesn't connect, right. Yeah, yeah, yeah. To connect. But the experience is interesting. We don't, you know, require any field, it's up. It's totally up to the type form person. So if they wanna make it anonymous, they can, If they want to ask for emails, they can. So it really is up to the business Yeah. To decide.
John Jantsch (17:17): So, okay, well I will give you my, um,
Karrie Sanderson (17:50): Yeah, I think that's a great suggestion. One of the things that, that probably why I wasn't visualizing what you were asking is that you can do that up front in Typeform. You can add that in at the very beginning along, hey, this is next question. It's all about this. Here's a short video you can watch before you answer it if you'd like. So the way that you can embed it, it is more like a conversation. So, or it can be just a straight up form if that's what you want. Yeah. With your logo and branding and some cool pictures.
John Jantsch (18:15): Well, and I love some that I've encountered where, you know, people are clearly in some ways making fun of the experience that we all go through now and really kind of making very light about, now I'm gonna ask you for all this, you know, personal information and
Karrie Sanderson (18:41): Thing that's super interesting that we find out in this brands are different than they were 10 years ago or 15 years ago, 15 years ago or longer. When you had a brand and you had the messaging, it was a one way you were like, Here's what I want you to learn about me and you would just put it out there. Yeah. The consumers today, because everything is digital, they really expect it to be a two way conversation. They wanna give their input and they wanna see that you're hearing them, whether that's through a social channel or through a form or whatever that is. And you can only get that. Is it that feedback is such a gift if you're running a company or you're running a marketing department because there's signal in there about what you're doing. Well, there's signal in there about what you may need to improve, maybe what competitors are doing well.
(19:23): And if you listen to it, your customer becomes a part of evolving the brand and they feel more vested like, Oh, this brand is changing along with input. I'm giving them, I they get more loyal and more likely to recommend, you know, I was thinking about the stages you were talking about for what you talk about, like buy, repeat, refer. Right. If they feel heard, if they feel like, like that you're evolving along with them and, and if you aren't giving them an experience to give that feedback along the way that feels human, it's a lot harder to get that information.
John Jantsch (19:53): Yeah. So, so, so let's talk about surveys and then we'll probably run it be out of time. But you know, a lot of times forms people will slug through them because I want the thing on the other. So sometimes we'll do that surveys, a lot of times it's like, nah, I'm doing you a favor,
Karrie Sanderson (20:16): Yeah, again, it's that it's the way that you can set it up, right? So what you, there's plenty of room to put a video element in and give context and say, Hey, this next question's about this, or to show a visual or to say you're this far along, to skip questions easily if the based on their answers. So, you know, nothing worse than taking a survey we're like, Yep, Ana answered above. Like, nope, you can skip all that behind the scenes. The creator can set it up and to your point, you know, at the end what happens next is a good thing to do. Yeah. And then, you know, surveys are tricky cuz it depends upon how long they are, there's best practices and that kind of thing. But putting yourself in the customer's shoes, whether it's a form, a survey, Legion, anytime you do that, an employee, you know, thing will inform how you build it.
John Jantsch (21:02): There's an interesting, I'm sure you're familiar with Survey Monkey of course. And there's an interesting attribute that they have that I've always find puzzling, not puzzling, but not sure what I find
Karrie Sanderson (21:36): Um, yeah, there's definitely, you know, depending upon what it's for, but again, I would say for that form, it maybe it's part of, it's just a format. You web a wall of questions, you don't know where the ends I would maybe leave too
John Jantsch (21:48): Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. So, so what's anything on the horizon for Typeform that you want to tell my audience about that you guys are working on?
Karrie Sanderson (21:56): Yeah, I mean we're always innovating with Typeform, which is great. One thing that we just released, which has been a very popular request, but something that, you know, we wanted to make sure we got it right is something called Brand Kits, which is essentially, especially for some of our customers who across the organization, they have different people using Typeform and you want it to all stay on brand, you know, so you can make sure everybody's using the right logo, you can make sure there's the visuals and graphics and that so people can use the form anyway. They want the Typeform any way they want, but with within their branding, which is nice. And we also have a product called Video Ask, which is phenomenal. It's a, it's more of a back and forth kind of video ay way that a lot of folks use for customer service. We have a lot of realtors using it, but it's a way to get that in more personal one to one feedback in a, in a video way, which is fantastic and people can also respond via text. But that's a product that we launched not that long ago and it's really getting some traction and an exciting thing.
John Jantsch (22:53): Nice. Awesome. Well, Carrie, I really appreciate you taking time to stop by the, the Duct Tape Marketing podcast. I always invite people to tell if you want to connect with you, obviously it's typeform.com for the company, but if you wanna invite people to connect with you anywhere in particular.
Karrie Sanderson (23:07): Yeah, I'm LinkedIn is definitely my preferred social channel, so Carrie Sanderson, I'm just at LinkedIn, you'll be able to find me easily. I would love to hear from folks and yeah, it's, it's been a pleasure. I really appreciate you inviting me on onto the podcast. Thank you.
John Jantsch (23:23): Awesome. Well hopefully we will run into you one of these days out there on the road in real life as well.
Karrie Sanderson (23:28): Yes, in real life would be good.
John Jantsch (23:31): Well thanks
Karrie Sanderson (23:31): Gary. Thank you so much, John. Thank you.
John Jantsch (23:33): Hey, and one final thing before you go. You know how I talk about marketing strategy, strategy before tactics? Well, sometimes it can be hard to understand where you stand in that, what needs to be done with regard to creating a marketing strategy. So we created a free tool for you. It's called the Marketing Strategy Assessment. You can find it @ marketingassessment.co. Check out our free marketing assessment and learn where you are with your strategy today. That's just marketingassessment.co. I'd love to chat with you about the results that you get.
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